If you’re looking for a travel destination that will mesmerize you and provide you with a certain sense of fulfillment, you must add Iceland to your bucket list. The country features breathtaking scenery, waterfalls, warm thermal pools for relaxing baths, and a rich and interesting cultural heritage.

Iceland has seen a tremendous surge in international visitors, with tourism significantly on the rise in the last few years. So we have put together an exciting itinerary for your trip north with helpful tips and trick to make your trip more sustainable to reduce the impact of so many visitors in this exceptional pat of the world. These tips will make your trip even better while also respecting the culture, stunning landscape and exceptional environment that Iceland has to offer. So let’s get started.

The very best way to see Iceland is by car.  You should, however, make sure the car is electric. If you are traveling in the winter months, you might want to consider a 4×4 vehicle. Also, Iceland can be pretty expensive, so it is recommended to pack several picnic lunches and a lot of snacks on your journey, which allows you to save on costs and also have meals outside while enjoying the weather!

5-Day Iceland Itinerary: With Alternatives

In this article, we’ll present a suggested itinerary for a 5-day trip to Iceland, during which time you’ll embark on a fantastic self-driving road tour throughout the country.

Self-driving road trips like the one described here or organized tours make it simple to see all the sights of Iceland. This Iceland itinerary is designed for independent travel, but if you’d rather not drive, alternate arrangements can be made.

So, let’s have a look at an Iceland itinerary for five days, which can help you have one of the most amazing trips of your life and experience the most fantastic of sceneries in this beautiful country of North Europe. 

This comprehensive plan breaks down each day by highlighting the sights you shouldn’t miss and then suggesting where to rest your head that night. Here goes the day-by-day plan, explaining where you can go and what you can enjoy there over the five days of your stay in Iceland-

Day One: Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland, is worth a visit and a good place to get your bearings and prepare for your week-long road trip. You can mostly walk around the small city, and immerse yourself in an amazing experience while visiting different parts of the city. 

Most international tourists to Iceland arrive at Keflavik International Airport, which is where you will most likely come as well. To get into the heart of town, you can either take a shuttle from the airport or wait until the next day to pick up your rental car. Holding off a day could save you money, and you probably won’t even need a rental car to explore Reykjavik.

It’s not difficult to rent a car in Iceland. Since Northbound is based in Iceland, you may take advantage of their extensive provider search and the option to include Iceland-specific insurance coverage. This can save you time and energy at the automobile rental counter when you’d normally be subjected to a hard pitch for these insurances. Now let’s get to the places that you can explore in Reykjavik. 

The Blue Lagoon is an easy stop and a scenic drive or day trip from Reykjavik. The healing mineral waters and unique color of the water are worth checking out. The Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most well-known thermal bath, is conveniently located on the way to and from the airport, making a stop there before or after your flight a great option. Even many transfer services that operate between the airport and the city center include Blue Lagoon in their itineraries. The Sky Lagoon is another option that is closer to the heart of the city.

If a thermal bath is not on your mind, you can rather spend the time sightseeing in this beautiful city. There’s a lot to see in the city, like the stunning Hallgrimskirkja Church, which is a unique architectural masterpiece and has a breathtaking view from its top. Or you can visit the whimsical Sun Voyager statue to have some fun taking pictures. If you want to kick off your Iceland adventure in style, Reykjavik has everything you could desire: excellent museums, a wide variety of dining options, and the best nightlife in the country. You can get lost in the streets full of colorful houses to forget all the sadness of your life for a while. 

You can also go on a whale-watching or puffin-watching tour or visit Harpa, which is a concert hall and conference center in Reykjavík and an architectural gem. You can also make a stop at Matur og Drykkur, a cozy restaurant with traditional and delicious Icelandic food. 

Consider purchasing a Reykjavik city card if you plan on visiting the city’s museums and other attractions. You will be able to save money with a 24-hour card that grants you free admission to several of the city’s best attractions and free rides on the city bus system. 

Options for Accommodation

On your first night in Iceland, you should stay in Reykjavik. Here are some potential choices:

Grand Hotel

This four-star hotel is located around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the heart of the city and comes with a spa, a gym, and free parking. 

Reykjavik Natura Icelandair Hotel

This hotel is located near the city airport and provides free parking, a free city bus pass, an onsite restaurant, and spa services. 

Guesthouse Galtafell

A convenient and inexpensive choice that is within a ten-minute stroll from the heart of downtown and the BSI bus terminal. Provides both traditional hotel rooms and self-contained apartments with kitchenettes. 

Galaxy Pod Hostel

This hostel is located in a convenient place and has a unique take on dorm rooms; rather than having shared bathrooms and showers, guests of the Galaxy Pod Hostel have their private pod. The quality of the pods varies, but most have televisions, outlets, and Wi-Fi.

The Northern Light Inn

The Northern Light Inn is also recommended for those who would rather be closer to the airport. The hotel is only a 17-minute drive from the airport and features a prime location near the Blue Lagoon. If you are traveling on a tighter budget, you can consider The Base by Keflavik Airport, which provides hotel and hostel-style lodging, in addition to an airport shuttle.

Day Two: The Golden Circle 

The Golden Circle 

The Golden Circle is one of the most iconic road trips in all of Iceland, and this is where you’re going to go after your stay in Reykjavik. Pack a picnic lunch and head out for the day. Also, pack several layers of clothing, as the weather can be unpredictable.  

There are three highlighted locations on the Golden Circle that you don’t want to miss, which are the amazing Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir hot springs area, and Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park.

Culturally and geographically, Thingvellir is a fascinating destination. As the site of Iceland’s first parliament, it is rich with cultural and historical significance. Thingvellir is also the site of the continental divide, so you can witness the slit between continents here, and if you feel like indulging in something more adventurous, you can go snorkeling in the middle of the ocean.

The Geysir Hot Springs area is the next site on the Golden Circle after Thingvellir. This is the location of “Geysir”, the original geyser from which the English word derives. You can find numerous bubbling mud pools and geysers that erupt daily here.

The Gullfoss waterfall is the final significant attraction on the Golden Circle tour. It’s impossible to be unimpressed by this enormous, multi-tiered waterfall, which has a massive amount of water crashing over it. There are several vantage points from which you can enjoy the sight of the falls, such as a nice cafe and an information center. It’s an incredible sight at any season of the year. 

Options for Accommodation

We suggest spending your second night in a hotel on or close to the Golden Circle, and a location close to Fludir will be a good choice. Possible choices include:

Farmhotel Efstidalur

This is built on a farm, as the name implies. Each room has its private bathroom, and there is a geothermal hot tub for guests to use.

Fludir Icelandair Hotel

There’s a restaurant right there, and it’s extremely cozy.

Garður Stay Inn by the Secret Lagoon

Highly recommended and conveniently located near the beautiful geothermal bath, “Secret Lagoon”, in Fludir.

River Hotel

This hotel beside the Ranga River and close to Hella Town provides guests with a restaurant, a bar, a hot tub, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Midgard Basecamp

The reputation of this hostel in Hvolsvöllur is excellent, and other travelers highly recommend it. 

Day Three: South Coast to Vik

South Coast to Vik

The third day of your Iceland trip will see you making your way toward the stunning south coast. You are in for a mesmerizing day as you explore this fantastic stretch of road and its many wonderful attractions.

Here is a brief reminder about driving safely in Iceland. There are many beautiful views to see along this route, but please drive safely and park only in designated areas. There’s a lot of traffic on the ring road, so pulling over on the road’s side is not a good idea at any time. It’s not worth putting your life in danger for a picture, no matter how adorable that horse is.

The Seljalandsfoss waterfall will be the first major attraction along the route you take here. It provides the opportunity to walk behind a waterfall that towers sixty meters high and you will be able to take breathtaking pictures there. Among Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls, and perhaps the only one of its kind where you can walk behind it.

The next stop is a lesser-known waterfall that’s quite close to Seljalandsfoss. While Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss get all the attention, there are a couple more waterfalls along this route that the more discerning Iceland traveler might wish to see. The first of these is Gljfrabi, a waterfall that is rather close to Seljalandsfoss but is hidden in a canyon.

You can get there by crossing the river and following the cliff trail. After a short distance, you will reach the canyon that houses Gljfrabi. You’ll have to risk some chilly water and getting sprayed with water from the waterfall if you want to reach it, but the reward is well worth the effort.

Skogafoss is the next big attraction on the southern coast. This magnificent waterfall is sixty meters high and twice as wide as Seljalandsfoss. For stunning shots (but be warned, you will get soaking wet), come as near to the base of the falls as you dare, or climb the many steps to the top of the falls for a different perspective.

Kvernufoss is the other, less well-known waterfall in the region. Simply take the same exit off Route 1 as Skogafoss and park at the Skogar Museum, then walk across the field to the waterfall. You may stroll behind Kvernufoss, just like Seljalandsfoss, but be prepared to get soaked!

The popular Iceland plane wreck is located a little further east of Skogafoss. Unless you are an avid photographer (or don’t mind a long day! ), you probably shouldn’t spend a few hours here because of how far away it is.

The next stop you can make on this route is in Dyrhólaey. This peninsula extends into the ocean, and from its peak, visitors can take in breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding area, including the stunning black sand beach and, on a clear day, the towering peaks of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano.

The steep dirt road leading to Dyrhólaey’s huge granite arch is well worth the effort. It is recommended that you drive a 4WD vehicle on this portion of the route, but if you don’t have one, you can park at the bottom and trek up. 

Reynisfjara Beach is a famous destination not far from Dyrhólaey. Out in the water, you can see a series of rock stacks, and on the beach, black basalt columns meet black sand. This remote area of Iceland offers a stunning backdrop for photographs.

The village of Vik will mark the end of the third day of our five-day tour of Iceland. This little community is home to a stunning church and breathtaking views of the sea. We recommend staying at one of the local hotels or, if none are available, continuing to the town of Klaustur to the east.

Options for Accommodation

Both Klaustur and Vik are wonderful places to stay. We recommend staying in the same hotel for two nights to avoid having to unpack and repack on day 4. Possible choices include:

The Barn

There are dorms and individual rooms available at this well-rated Vik hostel.

Hótel Vík í Mýrdal

The Hotel Vk Myrdal is a highly regarded hotel that can be found only 450 yards from Vik’s black sand beach and provides its guests with en-suite rooms.

Hunkubakkar Guesthouse

Five miles outside of Kirkjubaejarklaustur is where you’ll find Hunkubakkar Guesthouse, owned by a kind family. There’s free Wi-Fi, a café, and cozy cabins in bright colors.

Icelandair Hotel in Klaustur 

A newly built hotel in Klaustur, which offers rooms that are functional and unpretentious. 

Day Four: Jokulsarlon from Vik

Jokulsarlon from Vik

On our fourth day in Iceland, we’ll visit a glacier and a lagoon full of icebergs, in addition to more stunning waterfalls and canyons. 

Fjarárgljfur Canyon, located outside of Klaustur, will be the day’s first destination. The river that cuts through this two-kilometer-long canyon is a sight to behold. The canyon is one hundred meters deep, and the area is a great place for hiking.

Just take Road 206 off Route 1 in the direction of Lakaggar. The road is gravel but manageable; continue along it until you reach a crossroads and turn left, away from Lakaggar.

Svartifoss, often known as the Black Falls, is our next planned destination for the day. Skaftafell/Vatnajökull National Park is home to these spectacular waterfalls, which cascade over columns of black basalt. We think you’ll agree that the waterfalls are well worth the hour-long drive it takes to get there.

The Svnafellsjökull Glacier viewpoint is located a short distance from the Svartifoss turnoff on Route 1. You can get up close to the glacier’s ice tongue and marvel at its amazing blue tones right here. Don’t even think of venturing out onto the glacier itself; if you’re interested in seeing one up close and personal, a guided tour is your best bet.

You can round out the day with a visit to Jökulsárlón Lagoon and Diamond Beach. The Jökulsárlón Lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland, created by the Breiamerkurjökull glacier’s meltwater.

Glacier icebergs float aimlessly in the lagoon for an average of five years before melting or drifting out to sea. During the summer months, visitors to Iceland can take a boat excursion on this lagoon and get rather close to the glacier.

Your day will end at Diamond Beach, just across the highway from Jökulsárlón. Those icebergs frequently wash ashore here, scattered like jewels along the beach. It is a fantastic spot for photographers, as this breathtaking scene is difficult to imagine. An ideal spot to relax as the sun sets (if you’re here at the right time of year, that is).

Finally, it is recommended that you turn around and head back to Reykjavik, spending the night in either Klaustur or Vik. In that case, your options for accommodation will be the same as day three. 

Day 5: Back to Reykjavik 

Back to Reykjavik 

On the final day, you’ll head back to Reykjavik by following the route you came. Now is the time to turn around and take pictures at the attractions you skipped on the way back, whether the weather was bad or you just didn’t have enough time.

On your trip back to the capital, we recommend stopping in at a few of the fishing villages along the road. The cities of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, for instance, are easily accessible via short detours.

You can try using the driving Route 427 around the Keflavik peninsula if you have the time; it’s a scenic, less-traveled route that passes the stunning Strandakirkja church. The Blue Lagoon is open until midnight, so if you don’t make it there on your first day, you can finally do so on your last. 

And with you returning to Reykjavik, the five-day itinerary of your trip to Iceland comes to an end, as the capital will be your final destination. Since you will probably leave from the airport, it’s recommended to spend your final night in the city and enjoy the nightlife here to the fullest. The options for accommodation are the same as on the first day. 

Alternative Option: Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

If you’re short on time and want to see as much of Iceland as possible, you might want to consider spending a day on the lovely Snaefellsnes Peninsula while skipping Reykjavik either on your first or last day of the trip. If you wanted to squeeze it into the itinerary, you could, but it’s best suited for a longer trip, like a seven-day trip to the country.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has a unique microclimate and often provides an opportunity to see the northern lights. Be sure to stop at Helena Beach, the Malaria Lighthouse, and Djupalonssandur Beach, which is beautiful. Rjukandi Cafe is a great gem to stop at towards the end of your tour around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It’s really easy to spend an entire day sightseeing and exploring the peninsula.

Many of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations can be found in this region. We recommend that you visit the Gerduberg basalt columns, the Vatnshellir lava cave, and the magnificent Kirkjufell mountain. If you are adventurous enough, you can take a trip to the Shark Museum in Bjarnarhofn. At the shark museum, you will be able to try fermented shark meat, which is an Icelandic delicacy. 

Guesthouse Hof is a great place to stay if you want to spend the night on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. 

Final Words

While visiting Iceland, you need to keep in mind that there is a lot of walking, so pack things and make plans with that in mind. Also, learn a couple of keywords and phrases in Icelandic to show respect for the people and the culture. Buy groceries at the local supermarket to offset the high cost of the trip. Also, during the trip, try engaging with the locals, who are a lovely and open group of people 

There are benefits and drawbacks to traveling to Iceland during different seasons of the year. Driving conditions are ideal, and most attractions are open throughout the summer, making it the most popular time to visit Iceland. The routes mentioned in the itinerary don’t contain any major mountain roads that may be closed during the winter, so it’s suitable for travel in both the summer and winter.

Traveling to Iceland in the winter has many benefits, including lower pricing, fewer tourists, and more available lodging options. Also, the summer is a bad time to see the northern lights, but winter is perfect for that. 

But no matter what time of the year you choose to make your trip to Iceland, make sure to follow this itinerary if you are looking for a five-day plan, as this will help you cover most major destinations and help you have an amazing experience of the beautiful Nordic country. 

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